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Eastertide Evensong

Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha (Signum Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Eastertide Evensong
Works by J Anderson, J Goss, Howells, Leighton, Stanford et al
Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha
Signum Classics SIGCD 707   57:07 mins

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This is St John’s College’s second live evensong recording, and one of the last recordings where its choir will be male-voice only – from January this year both girls and women are being admitted.

Any hint of the routine – the choir’s director Andrew Nethsingha has over 8,000 evensong services to his credit – is immediately dissipated in a rapt rendition of Julian Anderson’s anthem My beloved spake. Thrumming staccato accents on the word ‘speaking’, and a tingling crescendo on ‘Arise’, are just two of the subtleties Nethsingha elicits, and the feeling of tentative emergence from a long-endured winter is grippingly captured.

Psalms 12-14 are cast as mini-psychodramas, the chants fluidly parsed to point meaning in a way that will enthrall some, but perhaps strike others as too interventionist. In Howells’s Gloucester Service, the long-range climax in the Nunc Dimittis is thrillingly constructed, while Leighton’s Responses are movingly introspective. Taverner’s five-part Dum transisset Sabbatum boasts immaculate balancing of the voice strands, the vernal treble line a particular pleasure. Organist James Anderson-Besant’s ebullient take on the finale of Widor’s Symphonie VI caps the service, to which Andrew Nethsingha’s booklet notes are an edifying complement.

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Terry Blain